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Czesław Gerwel „Orłoś”

Second Lieutenant Czesław Gerwel "Orłoś" was born on 18 July 1909 in Baranovichi, now in Belarus. He studied at the Romuald Traugutt State High School in Brest. In 1939, he graduated from the Poznań University’s Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. In May 1940, together with his wife, he was conscripted into forced labour in Martenshagen near Stralsund in Western Pomerania. He returned to Warsaw with his family upon his release in December 1940. In 1941, Gerwel took a job with the State Institute for Hygiene, and in 1941 he joined the Home Army. His work with the underground included helping to produce and smuggle typhus vaccinations to partisan units and into the Warsaw Ghetto. From 1942, he was in the Home Army Naval Force ‘Alfa’, and from 14 September 1943, he was a midshipman in its Health Service Unit. From 1942 to 1944, he studied medicine at the underground University of the Western Lands in Warsaw. He was a member of the ‘Chrobry II’ Group in the Uprising, fighting in the northen City Centre. Gerwel was responsible for a bacteriological-epidemiological work group and a pharmacy at the hospital at 27 Wspólna Street. After the capitulation, he was deported to Stalag IV B in Ziethain as a POW, where he was junior head of ward of the Polish Military Hospital, and one of its leaders. He studied at the Centre for Polish Students in Brussels after his release, returning to Poland in 1946. He settled down in Poznań. In 1950, he earned his Doctor of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, and become a Professor Extraordinarius from 1961, when he created the first Polish Clinic for Parasitic Diseases by the Academy of Medicine in Poznań. He was the author of many publications in the field of parasitology. Gerwel died on 12 September 1974 in Poznań.


  • Czesław Gerwel took 216 photographs during the Uprising and his subsequent internment as a POW in Zeithain, using a 35mm Leica reporter’s camera he received from his brother, Tadeusz Gerwel, a doctor. On the inside of its case was handwritten: ‘T. Gerwel, Doctor, Świętojańska St., Gdynia, Poland). He managed to carry the negatives out of Warsaw with him, and keep them hidden during various searches at Zeithain. His photographs, taken between August and September of 1944, preserve a view of how the lives of the insurgents, paramedics, and civilians continued on during the Uprising, especially around the barricades on the corner of Wielka and Sienna Streets, as well as the neighbouring area. He closes his Uprising with a couple of shots taken at the end of September 1944 from the hospital at 27 Wspólna Street. His photographs of the Polish Military Hospital at Zeithain show everyday life in the camp – doctors and nurses, carrying out their duties and at rest; as well as patients in the hospital barracks.
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